Come As You Are

Face your sexual obstacles and injustices.

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Photo by Romina Farias on Unsplash

Sex Ed, the DIY Affair

Discourse about sex has come a long way in just the past decade. At least it’s finally somewhat acceptable to talk about these problems, without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, or getting the TMI insult. Back in college, it wasn’t strange for friends to say stuff like this:

“Women don’t enjoy sex as much as guys.”


“Sex is different for girls. They don’t get as much out of it.”

I’ll never forget the day after my first time having sex. There was no climax, and I was confused. So I asked one of my close friends at the gym. “So, if you don’t have an orgasm, are you still a virgin?”

All the Bad Advice

Anyway, the question at hand is why some women (or men) don’t achieve an orgasm — and why we don’t talk about it. Education is bound up with this, of course. When we don’t educate people about sex, they come up with all kinds of goofy ideas. They listen to bad advice.

“There’s nothing wrong with you”

Back in my early 20s, I actually did see a doctor about my sexual problems. It was my partner’s idea. He didn’t think I was enjoying sex enough. He nagged me about my lack of enthusiasm.

Physical Causes go Under-Discussed

A hundred explanations exist for sexual dysfunction, and each of them deserve attention. Jessica Pin writes a compelling piece about how a labiaplasty performed on her at the age of 18 led to problems that have followed her through her adult life:

My consent form, of which I have a copy, says, “excision of redundant labia.” Dr. X completely removed all of my labia minora, performed a clitoral hood reduction without my consent, and cut the dorsal nerves of my clitoris. As a result, I have no sensation distal to my scars. The glans of my clitoris is insensate.

— Jessica Pin

The doctor, under-educated about female anatomy, refused to admit any fault. He wouldn’t even acknowledge her concerns after the surgery. Jessica Pin’s experience points to a bigger problem, about the lack of coverage of the clitoris in gynecology textbooks, where you’d expect loads:

OB/GYN ignorance of operative vulvar anatomy is dangerous because they put this anatomy at risk in a number of procedures. It should be known for understanding and treatment of sexual dysfunction, repairs of injuries, surgical treatment of vulvar cancer, and vulvar cosmetic surgeries (“treatment of hypertrophy” where “hypertrophy” is defined in the literature as less than the mean), which according to one survey study, 77% of GYNs offer to patients.

— Jessica Pin

These experiences say something important. We still have a long way to go in the discourse about sexuality, and female sexuality in particular. This applies to everyone, including men who don’t fit the WASP profile. If you’re brushed off, dismissed, or marginalized, speak up. Viagra doesn’t fix everything. Our sexual health is all bound up together, so we have to educate and advocate for each other, especially if and when doctors won’t.

Educate and Empower

Self education can sound dangerous, and I’m not telling anyone to treat their conditions by watching YouTube videos. But sometimes it helps to dig and explore, and get a second or a third opinion. It helps to write and tweet about your experiences. Doctors aren’t perfect, and medical science is always evolving. We can nudge it along.

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